Creating time for yourself

Sometimes you're lost for what to focus on next, as the work keeps piling up. What to do about it?

Posted by Eddo on June 11, 2017

In a recent @shawnblanc newsletter he actually poses this question; “Sometimes your lost for what to focus on next, as the work keeps piling up. What to do about it?” . He proposes the following advice to overcome it:

Reduce the scope: Whatever it is you’re excited about, consider scaling back what the finished project looks like.

Reduce your project load: Can one or more of the things you’re working on right now be put on pause?

Ask for help: Consider delegating and/or hiring others to help you.

Rest better: Try to spend your down time in such a way that leaves you feeling recharged.

Plan ahead: What is one thing you can do now that will improve life for your future self?

Consider the inverse: Ask yourself an “opposite question”, such as: What should I do to ensure that I never make progress on my goals?

Developing software using agile and scrum principles in practice works the same, though it then usually happens in a bit larger group then for a solo creative.

Doing creative work, like creating software, is like a marathon, it isn’t continuously sprinting at an unsustainable pace. Working smarter, not harder, nor more hours is the motto. After a while more and more tedious things will be automated or removed from your workflow, eliminating waste.

Reducing scope of a user story that is in progress if it takes more time than initially thought, in order to deliver value; or completely moving a user story to a next sprint after a necessary sprint interruption such as a crash or other fire.

In Shawn’s list I particularly like the last question he poses; inverse thinking, which I also recently read about in an article by James Clear.

Tell the story of how it happened. What went wrong? What mistakes did you make? How did it fail?

You pose this question in order to identify and prevent challenges ahead of time.

I’ve tried a similar exercise in a retrospective a long time ago, and it didn’t really go well as the question seemed not to be understood very well for some reason. I will try again in an upcoming retrospective.

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